So you found a suspicious number scribbled on a matchbook in your partner’s pocket. Or maybe an unknown number keeps popping up on the caller I.D. These “discoveries” seem innocent enough but, in many relationships, the occasional snooping around for clues to a partner’s extracurricular activities turns into an obsession that includes fishing for information from friends, reading personal e-mails and letters, and living an essentially paranoid existence.
When you notice something that makes you suspicious about your partner’s behavior, ponder the points below:
Proof vs. Paranoia
It’s so easy to jump to conclusions. Finding a romantic letter from your significant other to someone else is one thing. Running across an unknown number on a piece of paper is another. Avoid automatically assuming the worst. Then, read through the rest of these tips to determine whether the matter is worth pursuing or whether you should let it go and simply trust your partner.
Accident vs. Espionage
When you find a clue that you feel might be evidence of foul play or dishonesty by your partner, realistically consider whether you just ran across this suspicious something or whether you were on a witch hunt to find it. Getting woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night by mysterious calls for your partner is one thing. Searching through personal drawers to find that one remaining picture of his or her ex is another. How you came across a “clue” may indicate whether it’s a real issue or just your own trust issue.
Trust vs. Toleration
Trust is an intangible concept. It means that you and your partner have built a solid foundation for your relationship, have agreed to the type of commitment you want, and have an open channel of communication for discussing thoughts and concerns.
If you are the type of person who is constantly running across clues that concern you, sit down alone and consider the nature of your trust. Do you actively believe that your partner is committed to the relationship and looking out for both of your best interests? Do you believe that, if your partner was feeling discontent or unsatisfied, he or she would come to you first? Or, deep down, do you believe your partner is capable of breaking your commitment to one another? If the latter is true, you are simply tolerating the situation and waiting for wrongdoing. This is not trust and that fact needs to be examined.
Fixable vs. Final
If you determine that your need or tendency to play detective is because of distrust, then this is a major flaw in your relationship and needs to be examined. Is it based on past behavior by your partner or are you simply projecting fears from previous relationships onto your current one?
If you determine that the problem is a trust issue because of your nature or your partner’s character, then the problem really isn’t about the clue your found, but a bigger problem. You need to talk openly with your partner to determine whether compromises, active discussions or even counseling can solve this problem. If the trust issues are strong and no solution seems in sight, then you need to realistically examine the validity of the relationship.
Conversation vs. Confrontation
If you determine that the clue you found is indeed suspicious and not based on paranoia or a trust issue, then you need to think carefully before moving forward. There is always the chance your perception of the situation is wrong. When discussing concerns with your partner, always present the situation giving him or her the benefit of the doubt. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions and be confrontational. Saying “I am concerned about these late night calls” or “When doing laundry I keep finding odd things in your pocket” is always better than “Why are you cheating on me?”
Resolution vs. Resignation
When we enter into partnerships, we make a commitment to actively manage those relationships. So, whether it is a trust issue or a valid concern, it is important that you actively discuss the problem with your partner and work together to either dismiss it or create a solution. Remember, there is a difference between resolving a situation and simply resigning yourself to being in negative circumstances.
Our court system thinks long and hard before using evidence to actually bring a person to trial. You owe your partner that same benefit of the doubt and should be responsible and fair in bringing forward your suspicions. You should also be fair to yourself and voice issues or concerns that are making you uncomfortable.